This summer, shorts are as likely to be the appropriate attire for cocktails at a nightclub as at a baseball game, elevating a once-casual wardrobe staple to new fashion status.
Shorts now come in silky prints as well as sturdy cottons; they can be sleek and tailored or pleated and poufed.
The trend is getting a boost from such young Hollywood actresses as Amanda Seyfried and Blake Lively, who have made red-carpet appearances at award shows and film festivals in shorts rather than dresses.
Kate Dimmock, fashion director for People StyleWatch magazine, says shorts work for many women who are well beyond their 20s.
Whether you're in your 20s or your 40s, she says, "You wear shorts at some moment in life." And many women in their 40s and older are taking care of their bodies, working out and keeping their legs sleek and unblemished, so they continue to wear shorts, she says.
Dimmock says shorts styles are echoing what's happening on the runway, picking up on the minimalist trend, more volume, and the military-cargo trend that tends to be casual, baggy and breezy.
When women shop for shorts, they pay more attention to what fits well than what's chic, the fashion director says.
"They're less caught up in trendiness than what looks good on them," Dimmock says.
For daytime, she likes the classic look of shorts worn with a white blouse and espadrilles. Other good casual shoe choices are a clog or wedge, with wood or cork in the heel. "You want to keep the vibe casual - an easy, breezy feeling - and not wear black heels or metallics, which start to look tacky."
Shorts that are popping up at parties and entertainment red-carpet affairs take another tack.
"It's an extension of the miniskirt, and somehow it looks fresher and chicer than a mini," Dimmock says.
Black and other dark colors are good, as are more sophisticated fabrics like brocade and satin. "You have to try to elevate the look and make it more sophisticated," she says, whether it's through a fabric like brocade or styling details.
She's an advocate of not overdoing the accessories when wearing shorts for a dressy occasion. "You can wear them with heels, but don't go for the sexiest heel in your closet or a monster platform. Think about a gold wedge."
And don't continue to think of shorts as only a summer wardrobe item, as designers put them on their fall runways, pairing tweedy styles with chunky knits, opaque tights and lace-up boots.
"Again, it's a bit of a continuation of the miniskirt," Dimmock says, "and a fun play with proportions."